Casino Wars Descend Into Schoolyard Nonsense; Connecticut’s Boston Competition has More Problems

“I know you are but what am I?”

“You’re a stupid-head!”

“Meet me on the corner at recess!”

It’s getting very close to this as a Massachusetts casino developer and a key Connecticut state lawmaker trade fightin’ words over a potential third Connecticut casino. Meanwhile, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun should be taking advantage of major problems the Bay State’s Boston-area casino project is having even getting off the ground.

MGM Resorts International head honcho William Hornbuckle clearly went off script with Bloomberg News and decided to challenge Connecticut over casino jobs and revenue. MGM is developing an $800 million casino resort in Springfield.

During the process of the Connecticut legislature laying the groundwork for a third casino to defend against the Springfield project, getting a comment from MGM was like pulling teeth. Yet now Hornbuckle thinks it’s wise to start talking smack to Connecticut.

“We’re not going to go peacefully,” Hornbuckle said. They are “contemplating our options.” One would think the ridiculousness of Hornbuckle’s comments would elicit a simple, “What exactly are you going to do about it?” Because the fact is, Hornbuckle can’t do anything about Connecticut allowing another casino in the I-91 corridor or anywhere else. Hence his inability to articulate just what actions he can take to block it.

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The plain-spoken state Rep. Stephen Dargan of West Haven took the bait. “Bring it on, MGM. We’re in direct competition,” he told the Hartford Courant. Dargan is the co-chair of the legislature’s public safety committee which oversees gambling. “We’re serious about protecting our market share,” Dargan said. “If they think they’re going to scare us with their tactics, they’re not.”

“Oh yeah, well my dad can beat up your dad.”

The actually important developments in the casino wars are happening in Boston. The planned Greater Boston-area resort casino is potentially a major threat to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. It would be, that is, if it wasn’t running into roadblocks at every turn.

The latest problem developer Wynn Resorts is running into involves traffic. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy wants the project delayed until an independent study of the impact a casino would have on traffic. Healy doesn’t have the power to force Wynn to wait for a new study but she is a rising star in Massachusetts politics and has some serious juice.

The Mashantucket Pequots (who run Foxwoods) and the Mohegans would be wise to start playing a little offense. Wynn’s casino project has been a nightmare so far. The cities of Boston and Somerville along with a citizens group are all suing to try to block the developer from proceeding with the project in Everett, just north of Boston.

Perhaps the tribes should redouble efforts to lure Boston-area gamblers to Connecticut and take measures to keep them as customers as Steve Wynn spins his wheels instead of the roulette wheels.

“Liar, liar pants on fire…hang ’em on a telephone wire!”